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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Terrorism in France

France on Friday was the subject of very coordinated and violent terrorist attacks from this terrorist group known as ISIS. There were some coordinated attacks in France's capitol city of Paris which resulted in casualties and many deaths. I'm talking about it because at the end of his program last night Stephen Colbert talked about this attack and before his program James Corden gave his thoughts as well.

I consider the fact that America had been attacked by terrorists on Sept. 11th a day we continue to mark although it has been over 15 years at this point. This attack is considered the greatest one-time slaughter of people in our history.

I see similarities between what happened to us on 9/11 and what happened in France on 11/13. Yeah the circumstances might be slightly different in addition to the reasons and methods however I see one similarity. It's not something we can easily get away from.

I've learned from taking courses in international studies that there is no solidly defined term for terrorism as far as such organizations as the UN are concerned. Many of us may have our definition of terrorism but are they the most accepted definitions.

My definition is an action that results in death for a political aim. In 9/11 there was a political aim by Al-Qaeda and the late Osama Bin Laden just as it seems ISIS terrorists justified their coordinated attacks on France by her involvement in Syria.

My only observation on terrorist involves the idea of an individual. Terrorists of any stripe believe it's OK to harm people to achieve some sort of objective. Perhaps the objective here was to force France to withdraw from Syrian affairs.

Either way James Corden noted the human effect of these attacks on the Late Late Show. How someone could go somewhere and you'll never see them again because they died from something such as this. If you get nothing else out of this, realize that on Friday someone lost a father/mother/brother/sister/friend in Paris and all because of something that essentially had little to do with them.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Newsalert: Universal Pulls Steve Jobs After Box Office Bomb

I saw this film at the show and liked it very much, I'm not really a huge Apple user other than an iPhone or an iPad. However, I must say I've been keen on getting a Macbook at least. It's not necessarily because of these Steve Jobs movies that have come out in recent years.

Either way apparently the public don't like this film as much as I do. Via Newsalert!

Monday, November 09, 2015

Minority jury participation...

I just found out about this story out of Oklahoma, a white cop is accused of several sexual assaults many of his victims were Black. He's about to go on trial where his jury is all white with four white males and four white females. Whoever has been Black to be evaluated for joining this jury has been removed and not even any alternate jurors are Black.

Sharp contrast to this story out of Louisville, Kentucky where a judge down there will dismiss a jury if there are no Blacks present.

A jury that somewhat reflects the accused seems to be fair, but how do we ensure that? Are there no Blacks on the jury for that police officer because there was passion as far as how they could reach a verdict of guilty? At the same time would this all-white jury be able to reach a verdict in spite of the races of this officer's victims?

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

CapitolFax: Today’s quotable

An Illinois citizen wrote to our governor and got a response. Click through to see the response. He said he took a break from CapFax unless he needed an "emetic". Just had to look that up, heh that's probably politics everywhere in the country these days.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Washington Post: A black college closed in 1955, but its fading alumni fight to pass on a legacy

We looked at an HBCU on the brink of potential closure and today another that didn't survive. In this case, this school left behind a significant legacy as far as its history and dwindling alumni:
Storer started as a primary school in 1865, weathering racist attacks because it dared educate African Americans.

It graduated its last class in 1955, six decades ago, but Storer’s dwindling alumni return, year after year. Their descendants who never attended the school keep returning, too, even as the National Park Service, which now owns the campus, is making efforts to highlight Storer’s history.

The alumni and their descendants believe it’s their responsibility to honor those who persevered before them.

“Blacks and whites sacrificed blood, sweat and tears to make things happen,” says David Vollin, a zoning engineer with the District’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

Born during Reconstruction, Storer survived violence and was the site of other historic moments, including contributing to the birth of the modern civil rights era. And mostly, it created a refuge for young men and women. It’s a source of pride.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

While celebrating one HBCU...

We look at hopefully the return from bankruptcy of another HBCU which is also located in Atlanta, in close vicinity of Clark Atlanta University, Spelman College, and Morehouse College. We again look at Morris Brown College:
Morris Brown is a shell of its former self. The Atlanta campus made famous in such films as “Stomp the Yard” and “Drumline” sits almost vacant. The historically black college owns just three remaining buildings, the rest sold off to pay its debts and claw its way out of bankruptcy.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution talked with Morris Brown president Stanley Pritchett this week about his hopes for the college’s future. He also led a short tour of the school’s remaining properties and took us inside the historic Fountain Hall educational building, constructed in 1882.
For Pritchett, an alumnus of neighboring HBCU Clark Atlanta, taking the helm of Morris Brown was a worthy challenge, but also an opportunity to honor his late brother, a proud Morris Brown alumnus who died in 2000.

The school, which at its height enrolled between 2,800 and 3,000 students, now enrolls 40, with classes taking place in the the only building still in use, alongside office workers in the school’s administration building. To restore the administration building, with its missing ceiling panels and aging insides, Pritchett is working to raise $2 million over the next 12 months. Regaining the school’s accreditation is next on the list, followed by attracting more students and boosting program offerings, including its once popular hospitality program.
Check out this AJC [VIDEO] with President Pritchett and his future plans for Morris Brown College

Monday, October 26, 2015

Will I ever take Greyhound again?

Nashville, TN Greyhound station
During my time at Morehouse I exclusively took Greyhound to Atlanta. I knew how the ride is supposed to go since it was done so many times. Before finally graduating though the nature of bus travel began to change one of those was for that historic company to shed its seedy image.

I miss the schedule that saw my bus bypass cities such as Nashville,TN on the way down to Atlanta and now it's often a regular stop on the way down to Atlanta. Another change was that at certain points the bus made local stops either outside of Atlanta or outside of Chicago. For example, after leaving Nashville the bus would make stops in Chattanooga, TN; Marrietta, GA; and finally Atlanta.

Once upon a time on Greyhound whether or not you specifically bought a ticket for a particular schedule or departure you could still get a seat on a bus. Or probably more accurately Greyhound officials - drivers or terminal personnel - didn't make a big deal about it if you didn't purchase a ticket for a particular schedule. These days they know how many seats are available on the bus enough to determine whether you can switch your departure at the last minute.

Of course, I see with the 'hound is that now they board people according to their boarding number. Now depending upon who's on duty they may catch that you don't belong on that schedule and decide that you need to change your ticket (and possibly incur a fee). In my recent Greyhound trip, I did this pre-emptively although this was at the last minute and incurred the fee because originally I bought a non-refundable ticket.

While I think it's unfortunate that even though you bought a ticket, you must travel on the the schedule for which you purchased that ticket. At the same time the boarding policy is a nice touch perhaps less possibility of chaos as there had been in the past with boardings.

The only issues I have with Greyhound is that wifi doesn't work in all terminals and on all buses. Most buses at this point have signs indicating they have wifi and the two buses I rode on the way down had either no wifi or it just didn't work for me. Also on one bus the outlets to charge my cell phone didn't work.

What I learned on my way back is that the driver can flick a switch if you let them know for the outlets. Also you'd have to work with the wifi and therefore you can still get on the internet on the bus. The only thing is if you don't stay on the net you'd have to reconnect through the browser from time to time. It works, but a user has to work with it and that goes for at the terminals as well.

One thing I can say for sure is that, it's definitely a good thing that I no longer have to rely on Greyhound. That is at least I don't have to travel back and forth between Atlanta frequently where the bus is the only choice. If bus travel is the future my experience this year will allow me to be much smarter. All the same the 16 hour ride is not something I miss anymore.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Saw "Steve Jobs"

Earlier this week I finally saw Steve Jobs. It's the 2nd biopic of the Apple Computers founder and this new effort was written by Aaron Sorkin who's responsible for A Few Good Men, The West Wing, The American President, etc.

It seems like a much stronger film than Ashton Kutcher's Jobs from 2013. This one had more drama with the anointed John Scully and Jobs' eventual ouster from the company he created. Of course there was the drama of the products launches in addition to his family drama. The film mostly focused on his relationship with ex-girlfriend Chrisann and their daughter Lisa.

It seemed Jobs was more about building the legend at least the legend we know today. The legend who had it somewhat rough during Apple's developing years. Then he became the man who created the iPod, iPhone, iPad and redesigned the Mac as we know it today. In fact it's funny how it seemed the original Macintosh didn't seem to be the most ideal product for that time and now the whole line of desktops and laptops are called Macs.

Both films in their own way addressed Jobs' family drama - in Jobs Lisa was actually living with his new family and ultimately his return to Apple. Sorkin's effort seem to suggest well Jobs had a plan to get Apple back. He had to leave to get Apple back.

Ashton Kutcher was believable in Jobs even looked like him at various points. Michael Fassbender probably had a harder time but was convincing. It would be a tough vote to determine who resembled and acted the part better.

BTW, because of both movies now I must decide if it's worth expanding beyond the iPhone and iPad and get myself a Mac.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

99 homes

Finally took the opportunity to see this film recently. Basically it reminds me of Wall Street with Gordon Gecko essentially mentoring a young stock broker only to see them both on the radar of the federal government for insider trading.

Lately I seem to be watching movies that prove to be somewhat depressing. For example I saw the biopic Black Mass of gangster Whitey Bulger - thank goodness he's off the streets although he's still a senior citizen at this point. Another time I saw Sicario which I recently wrote about. Those films involved criminal figures and the things they do to maintain their criminal activities.

On this occasion, we see a film that easily was set during the course of the housing crisis earlier in this decade. Unfortunately someone has to put people out of their homes because of their inability to pay their mortgage or any loans borrowed against their homes. And of course someone is profiting from this and this could make people angry.

One tagline from this film is "don't get emotional about real estate". So we see a guy named Nash (Andrew Garfield) struggling to make ends meet and keep the family home for his mother and son. Ultimately Carver (Michael Shannon) kicks them out only to give Nash a job later and besides he's down on this luck anyway.

Suddenly Nash goes from the go to handyman to doing various jobs which also includes kicking people out of their homes in addition to essentially sabotaging homes so they won't attract interest from rival real estate agents. While Nash finally gets into the groove of his new found career he hasn't lost his conscious and it shows at the end of the movie.

Carver well somehow I like him while also recognizing him as a snake. Another tagline he utters during the film is "America doesn't bail out losers, America bails out winners". He proves a point about how his father worked hard and had very little to show of it other than a major injury which he was unable to get treated because insurance wouldn't cover it. And then noting how Nash worked very hard and lost his family home.

Carver is insensitive, greedy, and definitely unethical but somehow I could connect with him. Just as easily as I could connect with Nash. However, this film is a reminder not only to not get emotional about real estate but to also take care of our financial houses before we see someone like Carver serving us eviction notices.

Cubs face Mets on Saturday in the NLCS

Last night I found out the Cubs are facing the NY Mets in their first National League Championship Series since 2003. When the Cubs edged the Pittsburgh Pirates last week to move on the NLDS it was a big deal because this was another notch in winning a playoff series.

The deal is the Cubs haven't had much success in the playoffs although starting in 1984 (with other playoff appearances in 1989, 1998, 2003, 2007, 2008 and of course 2015) the Cubs have been going to the postseason on rare occasions. Before 1984 - when they couldn't get past San Diego Padres in the NLCS -  the Cubbies last postseason appearance was in the 1945 world series.

2003 was exciting to see the Cubs advance in their first postseason series since the playoff format began in 1969. At first two division winners in each league played in their respective league's championship series and then in 1995 a wild card team play against division winners in a best 3 out of 5 to play in their respective league's championship series. Now the current format is a one-game wild card playoff with the winner advancing to their respective league's division series and then their respective league's championship series.

And just think prior to 1969 the only way to advance to the world series was to win the pennant in each league. The Cubs had done that as recently as 1945 which was as stated the last time they appeared in a world series.

In spite of this talk of "Doc Brown" wanting to throw the first pitch in a possible Cubs world series or even bringing back former Cubs legend Sammy Sosa who also wants to throw a first pitch for now I'll just settle for a Cubs NL pennant. 2003 was a great season for the Cubs and they have always been a successful team in spite of what happened in Wrigleyville during the NLCS they will always have a place in my memories. But if they're successful in the 2015 NLCS here's hoping 2003 will just be a not more than a memory and we can also put the last 70 years to rest.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

I didn't know about this school...

When I found this, man my excitement got out of control:
In 1910, Piney Woods Country Life School opened as a place to educate the children of formerly enslaved Black people. That premise alone made it special. That Piney Woods still thrives, 105 years later in small town Mississippi as the top boarding school in the country for African Americans makes it historic.

Dr. Laurence Jones founded the school for poor Black people in the segregated South amid a culture of profound racism. Even the governor, James Vardaman, was a notorious white supremacist who did not want Blacks to get an education. Jones and his wife, however, did not cave in to the objectors.

White business owners in Ranking County, where Piney Woods sits, helped protect Jones and the school from the opposition. A white sawmill owner donated lumber, and Jones repaired the damaged sheep shed on the land donated by a former enslaved person.

Today, the school continues to produce countless bright young minds—a remarkable achievement considering its location in rural Mississippi, the struggle for aid, especially during the Great Depression, and the general substandard conditions of many schools that serve African-Americans in Mississippi and across the country.
I don't yet have children and thus not sure what to do when it's time to send them to school. For the most part my only consideration is that they would go to school in Chicago. Likely sent to a local public school and hopefully with a good eye to insuring that they will get the education I believe they deserve.

At the same time as time went on I realized the best education may not be had in a public school. Perhaps I have to really do some homework to determine whether or not my children would be well educated before at least going to a university.

At this point I couldn't possibly afford my children (well non-existent children) with a private education. Perhaps I'll get there in time, but it's something I would consider. When it comes to K-12 education the emphasis has often been between parochial or public schools. Now I know about institutions such as these.

Bottom line is that I've heard that people believe in good quality public education. I say forget that, public or private our young people deserve a good education regardless who provides this service. Perhaps spending money on private education can be a better deal than simply sending your children to a public school.

What do you think?